MLS president and duputy commissioner Mark Abbott met with some of the media in Portland this week for the All-Star game. A few highlights of what he had to say:
* MLS will retain its 34-game regular season next year even as it expands from 19 to 21 teams. The basic structure of the league — presumably meaning Eastern and Western conferences and the basic playoff play — also are expected to remain familiar.
* He reaffirmed the league’s long-held calendar, and didn’t seem to know what to make of recent reports indicating the league was about to switch to the standard international calendar.
* The league is confident it will find an owner for the Chivas USA franchise. The league wants the new ownership to have a plan for a stadium near downtown LA, and Abbott floated the possibility of a soccer-specific stadium on the current site of the LA Sports Arena, next door to the Coliseum and near the USC campus.
* The league is hopeful of reaching a friendly mutually beneficial new agreement with the players to replace the CBA that expires after this season.
* It sounds like the salary cap will continue in familiar slow and steady pace. The league believes all those World Cup viewers in the USA looked in because they appreciate soccer at its highest level, but it doesn’t sound like they’re ready to pay for that anytime soon.
* Abbott acknowledged two Sounders: DeAndre Yedlin as an example of homegrown success, and Clint Dempsey for the suggestion he made yesterday about the MLS All-Star Game returning to format pairing Eastern COnference stars against Western Conference stars.
* Abbott didn’t rule out Dempsey’s suggestion, but he indicated that the league likes the current format, and in this case the kind of national and international attention drawn from an opponent like Bayern Munich.
* Absolute words like “never” aren’t generally spoken by executives during press conferences, but Abbott said MLS will never go to a relegation system.